After one of the most divisive presidential election campaigns in history, the American people have spoken and Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States.
In a country divided in so many ways, we must strive to remember those things that connect us. Rivers connect us to one another, to nature, to our history, and to future generations. Regardless of political party, we all need clean water and healthy rivers. By uniting around healthy rivers, we can improve public health and safety, ensure reliable water supplies, grow our economy and boost quality of life in communities nationwide.
President-elect Trump’s rhetoric about the environment during the campaign was not encouraging, but I hope that, in governing, his administration will continue to recognize that protecting the environment for all Americans is not a partisan issue.
Indeed, some critical American Rivers successes have been launched by leaders of both parties. For example, the Penobscot Dam removal was jumpstarted by $10 million secured with the invaluable help of the George W. Bush administration and its then-OMB Director, the current Senator from Ohio, Rob Portman.
The program that provides funding for many of our dam removal projects was last authorized in a law passed by a Republican Congress in 2006 and signed by President Bush.
The Yakima Integrated Plan has Republican and Democratic elected officials leading the way. And the legislation that protects the headwaters of the Snake River as Wild and Scenic is named after the late Republican Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming, who fought for its passage.
Rivers and clean water can and should be bipartisan issues. As the new administration takes shape, American Rivers will work with it and Congress where we can to protect and restore rivers and conserve clean water.
But make no mistake: we will stand in strong defense of rivers and clean water when we must. With our quarter-million members and supporters behind us, we will vigorously fight all efforts to weaken environmental protection. And we will redouble our efforts to ensure that we have the financial resources to do so.
On a more personal note, the campaign brought out some dark and ugly rhetoric about people of color, Muslims, the disabled, immigrants, Native Americans, women, and the LGBT community. Rivers don’t care where you came from or where you’re going, what you believe and what you don’t believe, who you love or who your parents were.
At American Rivers we respect the dignity of every human being who works for us, who works with us, and who we see on the river.
American Rivers’ greatest strength lies in our people – our staff, supporters, activists and volunteers – and the knowledge, experience and passionate commitment to rivers that we bring to our work every day. The election results have not changed that. In fact, as we rise to new challenges and our resolve is renewed, that strength will only grow.